Blood Sugar 101 (and how to take charge of yours!)

Symptoms of blood sugar imbalance include one or more of the following- waking up at 2-4 am, an afternoon energy crash, foggy brain, irritability aka “hangry” from not eating, weakness, blurred vision, craving sugary or refined foods, belly fat, need for caffeine to get through the day, jittery/shaky, low sex drive, problems losing weight, infertility, to name a few.

Blood sugar highs and lows can be the root cause of inflammation and numerous downstream systemic problems, including hormonal challenges. Insulin Resistance, Hyperglycemia, Hypoglycemia,  Metabolic Syndrome, Prediabetes, Diabetes- These are all pathological names for blood sugar problems that result from years of blood sugar imbalance.  Blood sugar regulation is important for all of us and is often overlooked as a cause of daily symptoms. Learning basic physiology and listening to your bodies signs and signals is fundamental to long-term health. Measuring your blood sugar levels can be super insightful and great fun:)

Glucose– simple sugar known as blood sugar that feeds your cells, produced mainly by the breakdown of carbohydrates during digestion.

Insulin-  hormone that helps move glucose from the blood to the cells to be used as energy or stored, it is produced in the pancreas and lowers blood sugar levels.

Insulin SensitivityThe normal and prefered situation where the cells are open to receiving insulin so the insulin can do its job and lower blood sugar allowing cells can use the glucose for energy.

Glucagon- hormone produced by the pancreas to balance insulin, when insulin is low (because blood sugar is low) glucagon promotes the release of glycogen (stored glucose) in the liver and the conversion of proteins to glucose. Both provide glucose for cells to use.

Dysglycemia– state of chronically dysregulated blood sugar that includes both low and high blood sugar levels.

Glucometer- Measuring your blood sugar and empowering yourself to take charge of your baseline health

Don’t be scared that you don’t know how to do it.  Go for it! Order one online, any one will do, no need to get the most expensive.  Have fun playing with it.  They all have directions that are easy to follow.  Just start paying attention and the numbers will start making sense. I encourage people to write them down on a calendar or sheet of paper, notice patterns, take charge! 

Testing your blood glucose (how much sugar is in your blood) Directions-

  1. Always wash your hands before testing your blood glucose
  2.  Put a test strip in your glucometer
  3. Prick your finger with device
  4. Put a drop of blood on the test strip
  5. Wait, read, record.
  • Fasting Blood Glucose is a great place to start- measure blood sugar first thing in the morning before eating or drinking (wash your hands first, did I already say that?;)-  
    •  best to keep under 100 mg/dL  (functional range is 77-88 mg/dL)       
    •   90-125 mg/dL- Warning zone (pre-diabetic)
    • >125 diabetic
  • 1 hour Postprandial measurement (1 hour after eating)-  normal is <140 mg/dL
  • 2 hour Postprandial measurement (2 hours after eating) – normal is   <120 mg/dL
  • 3 hour Postprandial measurement – back to normal

*Test yourself after specific foods, meals, quantities etc to see how you uniquely react to foods if you would like to further the testing and explore more. 

GeneralDiet and Lifestyle Recommendations for regulating blood sugar (remember, we all react differently to foods and are bioindividual, but this is a good place to start)-

    • Eat 3 meals a day with 2 snacks in between
    • Remove or reduce food bandits (sugar, artificial sweetener, white flour, damaged fats, processed foods)
    • Eat within 1 hour of waking up. Never skip breakfast with dysregulated blood sugar.  Make sure to include clean protein.  I like to have 1 cup of nut milk with chocolate collagen protein powder when I wake up when I am trying to manage blood sugar.  
    • Include Protein/Fat/Fiber in every meal/snack (make that your mantra!!)  Fiber slows down the speed at which glucose hits your bloodstream (preventing the blood sugar and then insulin spike), fat does not cause a rise in blood glucose but provides energy for cells and helps us feel satistfied, and protein helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
    • No restrictions on fat as long as they are high quality such as avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut, pastured and organic meat/dairy/eggs, olive oil,  Omega 3’s (eliminate oxidized oils and vegetable oils)
    • Eat high quality carbs, non starchy veggies, dark green leafy vegetables,  polyphenols (from brightly colored fruits and vegetables), soaked/sprouted whole grains
    • Eat before becoming hungry.  Notice signs of hunger/blood sugar imbalance
    • Practice calorie restriction.  Eat to 80% full
    • Specific Nutrients to get from food (or supplement if needed)
        • B vitamins
        • vitamin K- increase osteocalcin (bone health)
        • vitamin D- increase insulin sensitivity
        • Magnesium-( glycinate, citrate, or malate before bed)-  insulin production
        • Chromium- facilitates insulin signaling and decrease carb craving
      • Zinc- strengthen pancreas, needed for insulin production
    • Booster Foods– greens powders for cofactors, fermented foods, chia, flax, etc
    • Sulfur foods for Alpha Lipoic Acid- broccoli, onion,
    • Stress reduction and stress processing (daily meditation, guided imagery, etc)
    • Exercise daily
    • Mindfulness, spiritual practice
    • Find joy, community connection, loved ones, hobbies, delight
    • Get a good night’s sleep.  Go to bed by 10pm if possible and keep your room as dark, quiet, and cool as possible

Helpful Botanicals for blood sugar regulation

  • Fenugreek seed powder (>5 g /day)
  • Cinnamon – 1 tsp – 1 TBL per day
  • Nigella Sativa (black cumin seed)
  • Curcumin or turmeric  (500mg turmeric or 22 mg curcumin) 3xs a day for 2 months
  • Berberine (.5-1.5 g /day)
  • EGCG- from green tea
  • Tea (green, black, oolong)
  • Gymnema Sylvestre

Call for a free phone consult to see if Mountain Rebalance can help you take back your health! 

References-

Bauman, Ed.  Therapeutic Nutrition Manuel. Bauman College.  Pengrove, CA. 2016

Hyman, Mark.  The Blood Sugar Solution- The 10 day Detox.  Little Brown and Company. New York, NY.  2014

Kresser, Chris. When Normal Blood Sugar Isn’t Normal.  Kresser Institute. October 2016

F.I.N.D S.E.X. and Heal Your Autoimmune Disease

Following Dr. Alex Vazquez’s FIND SEX protocol can help you manage your autoimmune inflammatory disease from its root cause.   While it is no magic pill (it actually takes work and lifestyle changes), it is a highly effective and a complete systems based approach to reducing chronic inflammation and calming autoimmunity.

Autoimmune disease effects an increasing number of Americans every year and is the fastest growing group of chronic diseases.  Our understanding of them is still growing as we learn more about root causes of disease. An autoimmune disease occurs when someones immune system mistakes itself as an invader and attacks it.   The immune system has lost its ability to differentiate self from non self and damages the tissues where this occurs.  This happens for a variety of reasons and differs from person to person.  Some things that make someone more susceptible to autoimmune disease are environmental toxins, infections, nutrient deficiencies, genetic, gut dysbiosis, leaky gut, heavy metals, neuro-endocrine disruptors, etc.    The list of autoimmune diseases is growing every year as we learn more about the mechanism of disease.  Some examples of autoimmune disease are: Hashimotos Thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Chron’s Disease,  Lupus, and more.

Pharmacologically one may be prescribed a drug that will suppress the immune system. Medication certainly has its place in the world but this does not address the underlying cause of autoimmune dysfunction and comes with side affects.  From a more natural and root cause approach or as a compliment to pharmaceuticals we can work with Dr. Vasquez’s FIND SEX paradigm to help people feel better and heal.   Here is what it stands for-

F-  Food (not only what you are eating but what you are actually absorbing, so looking at functioning of the entire GI tract from top to bottom along with removing immune trigger foods and sensitivities)

I- Infections (checking to see if there are any underlying infections that are causing chronic inflammation, these can go undetected for years)

N- Nutrients (reading labs or going by symptoms to discover any nutrient deficiencies from lack of them in the diet, from not properly digesting them, or having genetic problems with processing/converting them to usable forms)

D- Dysfunctional Mitochondria (ensuring your mitochondria have the necessary precursors they need to function properly to turn food into fuel for every body process)

S- Stress, sleep, sociology, etc (working on these critical daily habits)

E- Endocrine imbalances (checking hormone levels and endocrine communication as well as balancing blood sugar which wreaks havoc systemically in the body for most people not just diabetics)

X- Xenobiotics (looking at what toxins you are potentially exposed to through your home, work, cosmetics, foods, etc and reducing the total load on your body)

Again, this is no magic pill because unfortunately that does not exist for true healing.  It is highly individualized depending on each persons own gut health, toxic load, nutrient levels, hormonal balance, mitochondria function, genetics, and infection status.   Addressing each of these areas is essential to have a long term effective plan.

We work people to individualize their health plan and I can assure you we will be talking about FIND SEX.  Come see us, check out one of several of Dr. Vasquez’s brilliant books,  make big grassroots changes and feel the difference yourself.

Another great article to check out about Functional Medicine and Autoimmunity by Dr Mark Hyman- https://drhyman.com/blog/2015/07/24/10-strategies-to-reverse-autoimmune-disease/

Booster Foods to Maximize Health

Your body is made of cells and those cells are effected by the environment you expose them to.   Things that damage your cells and ultimately create chronic and debilitating degenerative conditions are: toxic exposure, blood sugar instability, inflammation, oxidative damage by free radicals, hypoxia (lack of oxygen), and insufficient macro/micro/phyto nutrients (due to impaired absorption, decreasing nutrients in our foods, or lack of consumption).

Along with avoiding environmental exposure, decreasing stress, getting enough sleep, and eating a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables,  adding booster foods to your daily diet can help you feel more energized and ward off chronic diseases.  Booster foods give you a ton of nutrient bang for your buck.  They provide many of precursors that your cells need to function properly and do their jobs and in result keep you healthy.   They are full of antioxidants, minerals, phytonutrients, probiotics, and protein.  The best ones to add to maximize the integrity of your cells are:

    • Nutritional Yeast
    • Green powders
    • Algae, seaweeds (chlorella, spirulina, dulse, kelp, sea palm, hijiki, etc)
    • A variety of Spices and Herbs – add as many as you can to your snacks and meals! Dry or fresh but add them.
    • Nuts and Seeds (flax, hemp, sesame, chia, sunflower, etc AND seeds to sprout such as alfalfa, broccoli, etc).
    • Fermented foods (sauerkraut, miso, kumbucha, apple cider vinegar, etc)
    • Beverages- mineral broths, bone broths, green tea, herbal teas (there are hundreds of yummy herbal teas with endless health benefits)
    • Protein powders- whey, hemp, pea, brown rice, collagen
    • Rainbow fruits and vegetables

Put these important foods in your cabinet or fridge, place them where you can see them, and add them to your daily diet as much as you can.

Enjoy! Janel

Homemade Kimchi to save the day (and the gut)!

 

 

kimchi

Best welcome home discovery after a week on vacation? Fermented Kimchi that’s all ready!  I was finally brave enough to try my hand at this fermentation style and I am thrilled I did.

After a week on the beach in Mexico indulging in many foods that don’t work for me I was pumped to come home and find my first batch of homemade kimchi ready to enjoy and start the repair.  Adios stomach cramps, constipation, and restless nights.

We all know that gut health plays a primary role in practically all of our body systems functioning properly, including hormone and neurotransmitter production, mitochondrial function,  and our immune system.  One of the best things for gut health and a balanced micro-biome are probiotics.  While  taking capsules work well, you cannot beat the strains in the real whole food version, including sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir.  Plus, its super rewarding to prepare it yourself, patiently wait, and then indulge in all the microorganism goodness.

Here is the recipe I used that rocks

  • 4 cups of shredded cabbage (Napa, Chinese, etc)
  • 1 cup of grated carrots
  • 1 small red onion minced
  • 2 sliced green onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic (less if you don’t love garlic)
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 TBL lemon juice
  • 1 TBL sea salt
  • optional 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and squeeze/mash with hands.  Let sit for 30 minutes covered with a towel.  Transfer the ingredients to a wide mouth mason jar.  Push the mixture down as much as you can each time you add a spoonful and at the end.  Once all in the jar and its pressed down make sure that it is all off the sides and under the brine line (so covered in the liquid).  I put a small glass weight on it but you can also use another smaller mason jar filled with water or a rock, etc.  Cover with a cloth and wait as the magic happens.  Might take 5-12’sih days.  Taste it after 7 or so and see how it tastes.  Mine took 12 days this time.  Go on, be brave and try it! People have been enjoying it all over the world for generations.  Enjoy!!!

Wildly, Janel

Surviving the Winter Blues (plus one of my favorite healing winter beverage recipes)

 

 

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Although disheartening, I do not mean the Winter Blues due to the lack of snow here in Truckee this year!

Winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), affects more than 10 million people in North America and women make up 60-90% of those affected (PsychCentral).  It is a form of depression that is specifically time based coinciding with the shorter days of winter, starting in fall and resolving in spring.  While the exact cause remains unknown, factors that influence it are fluctuations in circadian rhythm, serotonin levels, and melatonin levels due to the decrease in daylight.

So what’s a person to do?  It is worth trying to find a balance between embracing the dark by adjusting our mindset yet proactively doing what we can to facilitate our biochemistry to feel as good as we can during the shorter days.

Winter has a different vibe than summer as it’s a more restful and quiet time in the natural world.  Things slow down energetically and turn inward so they can bloom in the spring.  Most of nature works in a cyclical way like this.   Even our bodies work in a cyclical way.  Cortisol levels rise and fall as the day goes on, menstruation cycles with each lunar month, the thyroid cycles with the season, etc).  The dark is a time of more inward focus and rest.  If we can embrace this idea, and not fight it, perhaps we can be more in sync with it’s quieter rhythm.  A few ways to embrace the dark include

  1. Light a candle first thing in the morning
  2. Cozy up by the fire with a book instead of turning on the TV
  3. Have a warm cup of Golden Milk (my favorite recipe below) or herbal tea
  4. Dust off your piano or guitar and play a song instead of rushing to the next activity
  5. Start or continue a daily meditation or breathing practice (calm or headspace app,  gaiamtv.com)
  6. Honor the winter solstice and celebrate the dark and the return of light
  7. Cook a warm and oily gut and soul healing soup

Along with embracing the dark and cozying up to it there are things we can do to help with our body’s biochemistry to minimize the hormonal effects of shorter days and less light.  Here in Truckee the sky is often sunny.  Making an effort to get out in it in addition to feeding our body what nutrients it needs to thrive can help. Here are some ideas-

  1. Take a walk in the midday sunshine or move your desk so you are in a sunlit window
  2. Try light box therapy when you wake up for 20-30 minutes a day (10,000 lux of illumination while the smallest amount of UV emitted)
  3. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and try to go to bed at the same time every night
  4. Enjoy the healing benefits of adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens are herbs that help us manage stress and balance hormones
  5. Eat a whole foods diet focusing on colorful vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts/seeds, healthy fats, high quality protein, fermented foods, and plenty of clean water
  6. Exercise.  If you can do this outside in nature it is a double whammy as being in nature has many biochemical benefits on it its own
  7. Connect with friends or family over a nice warm bowl of soup
  8. Daily supplements that help most people function optimally are omega 3 fatty acids, probiotics, and vitamin D

Wishing you joy and coziness this winter season and of course please reach out for help if you need it

Wildly, Janel

 

Golden Milk  Golden milk has many wonderful ingredients but the star is turmeric.  Tumeric contains curcumin which is the main healing chemical constituent. Curcumin is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, boosts immune function, and more.  Enjoy!!

Recipe (by Sharkin)  Ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

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